How many schools should I apply to?

College Admissions

Our counselors answered:

How many schools should I apply to?

Joseph Freeman
Dean and College Counselor Randolph School

List size

How many schools you should apply to very much depends on the nature of your college search. As a general rule, work to hone your college list to between six and eight schools. You want your list to have balance--a mixture of reaches, targets, and likelies--but EVERY college on the list must be one that you want to attend. Applying to a school that you have no real interest in attending not only wastes your time and money but also takes an admissions offer away from someone who might have that school as his or her first choice. Applying to more than ten schools is generally unwise, particularly if your list is "reach-heavy." You need to have a high threshold for rejection in that case. At the same time, focusing too narrowly on only one or two choices will leave you with limited options at the end of the process, particularly if college cost is an issue. That said, students who can identify a clear first choice should take advantage of Early Decision options, and students who are interested in a university with rolling admissions should get an application in as early as they can. Finishing the application process early in the senior year can be beneficial for the right student.

Samantha Pieper

The number of schools to apply to

I recommend applying to anywhere from four to seven universities. If you apply to too many, you may not be turning in quality applications, and you may not have any genuine interest in those schools! Apply to schools you have visited or plan to visit and that you would seriously consider attending. Make sure you apply to at least one safety school that you would be happy to attend, i.e. a school you know 100% will accept you. Then, apply to a couple of schools you are fairly sure will accept that you also have an interest in attending, and finally, apply to one school that is a reach, a school that has higher admissions standards but you still have a chance of getting in. Best of luck!

Heather McCowen
Post Secondary Counselor The Chicago HS for the Arts

How many schools should a student apply to?

Between 7-10. The student should apply to enough schools to have several options to choose from to make sure the fit is there both academically and financially. Too many schools and the student's application quality will decline, too few and the student may not have choices about where to go to school.

Allen Hill
School Counselor Antelope Union High School

Applications for Schools

You should apply to every school that meets your criteria, such as degree field available, size of school, location of school, and social elements. Do not limit yourself to one or two schools that fit your requirements, seek out all the schools that fit.

kati swanson
Counselor TMCC HS

Limit your college applications to 5

Once the application phase of the college admissions process has started students should have already completed their research of prospective colleges. Students should have narrowed their college choices down to their first choice school plus several second choices and a safety school. A safety school is the school to which a student is confident of being admitted. Applying to many schools without thoroughly researching them will not help a student decide on the best college fit.

Chyriell Drain-Hill
Director of School Counseling Belleville Township HS East

How many appplications should I submit?

I recommend a minimum of 3 college applications.

Ted Skowron
Counselor Brophy College Preparatory

consider 8 out of state schools

Most in-state universities have a rather set formula for admission that relies on gpa and standardized testing. Private schools will look not just at gpa and standardized test results but also on your reported activities, personal statement, and recommendations. When narrowing down one's list, it is good to have two reach schools, four in the competitive range, and two that you most likely will be admitted.

Don Tamminga

How many schools should I apply to?

That depends...generally the less sure you are of what you want to do and where you want to go, the more schools you should apply to. I encourage students to create a list of a couple of reach colleges which they may or may not be accepted into, four target colleges which they would be happy to go to and would meet their needs and they likely would be accepted to and the a coouple colleges as a back up plan whcih they know they can get into if all else fails.

Leigh Spence

Not 31!

I recommend that students not apply to more than 10 colleges at the very most and three to five is a very manageable number. I always suggest applying to a safety school (one the student knows he/she can get in), a reach school (one that he/she is uncertain they can get in) and a dream school (the "if-all-the-planets-are-in-alignment" school.) I once had a student apply to 31 colleges and that was WAY too many!

Robin Farris

Safety, Good Chance or reach....How many should a student apply to?

I typically ask students to apply to three reach, three good chance and two to three safety schools, one of which should be a financial, just in case their financial aid package doesn't meet their needs